(Additional photos from Bintulu Weekly: Prehistoric, rare and endangered sawfish caught by fishermen in Daro
and WWF Malaysia urges Pulau Bruit villagers to play roles in conservation)

Malaysia: Kampung Bruit fishermen net a whopping 300kg sawfish
25th June 2014;

Two fishermen from Kampung Bruit here were in for a huge surprise on Monday night when their fishing trawler net seemed heavier than usual.

Little did they know that what they had hauled up would create history as their catch was none other than a Sawfish (Pristis sp.) weighing close to 300kg.

Pulling with all their might, the fishermen (name withheld) had to call for help from friends in the village as their catch was extremely heavy and considered the biggest fish they had caught throughout their years as fishermen.

Initially, the 27-year-olds were not aware of what fish they had caught at sea near Pulau Bruit around 9pm but after dragging the fishing net to shore with the assistance of other fishermen, they were shocked to find that they had caught a Sawfish measuring five metres long and two metres wide.

“We took almost 30 minutes to defeat the Sawfish but we were unable to haul it up to the boat as it was too big and heavy. Our only option was to tow it back to Kampung Bruit jetty and wait for sunrise before dragging it to shore,” one of the fishermen recalled of his experience.

By then, many villagers had thronged the beach to see for themselves the unusual catch of the day.

The Sawfish has since been sold to villagers and interested customers in Sibu. Details on proceeds of sale were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, photographs and stories of the large catch went viral on social media amongst residents of Pulau Bruit as many commented that they had never seen such a huge fish caught by fishermen before.

According to Wikipedia, the Sawfish is an endangered species. However at press time, Sarawak Forestry Corporation could not be reached for comment.

Source: The Borneo Post

Based on the size and arrangement of the teeth, this is likely to be a Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis microdon). Recent research suggests that the Largetooth Sawfish of the Indo-West Pacific and several other populations of Sawfish elsewhere in the world belong to a single species, and should be classified as Pristis pristis.

Photos by Natalia Huang

Young eagle strangled by fishing line
By Ria Tan, 25th June 2014;

Natalia Huang sadly reported a White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) juvenile carcass was found on the ground below an active nest along Pasir Ris Drive 3 in SLA land, on 24 June.

It died by what appears to be strangulation by a fishing line.

A Singapore filming company came across it while filming a wildlife documentary for Channel News Asia, which includes a segment on the sea eagle.

On the active nest were two adults and one juvenile which looked to be about 10 weeks old (according to Simon Cherriman, the visiting eagle biologist). From photos, the nest looks like it is in an Albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria), common for the species. Simon estimates that the juvenile eagle was about 6 weeks old when it died.

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Source: Wild Shores of Singapore

Initially reported to have been strangled by a piece of fishing net, it has been clarified that the eagle was entangled in a length of fishing line.

A young female Melon-headed Whale (Peponocephala electra) stranded in Talisay City, Cebu last June 22 (Sunday). BFAR 7 staff and personnel made an effort to rehabilitate the animal but it died the following day. Post mortem examination done by Dr Jennefe Cabarubias revealed that the lungs are compromised. Final cause of death is yet to be determined.

Source: Friends of PMMSN – Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network Facebook

Dead crocs will undergo autopsies: PUB

By Audrey Tan, 25th June 2014;

The authorities have come up with fresh procedures to deal with dead crocodiles, after questions were raised over the handling of the carcass of a crocodile nicknamed Barney.

National water agency PUB and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) have reviewed the procedures, PUB told The Straits Times yesterday.

“In the event that any dead crocodiles are found, PUB will send the carcass to AVA for an autopsy to determine the cause of death,” a spokesman added.

Observers had voiced doubts about how the authorities had not done an autopsy to find out the cause of death of Barney, a 400kg Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) found dead at Kranji Reservoir on April 18.

The 3.6m-long reptile was found dead with a metal rod in its eye and a large fishing hook lodged in its mouth. PUB said yesterday that it was investigating it as a case of poaching but has yet to find the culprits.

The carcass of Barney, believed to be one of the largest wild specimens here, had been disposed of at a nearby farm.

Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm, the only one here, had said it did not receive the carcass.

Yesterday, observers like Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai welcomed the revised procedure, calling it a step in the right direction.

But Mr Subaraj, 51, who has more than 30 years’ experience in wildlife work, said the change should be extended: Autopsies should be carried out on all animals without an immediate known cause of death.

“The crocodile was a native, endangered species – it is important to know what caused its death.” he said. “In a nature area such as Kranji Reservoir, which is also a drinking water supply area, it is also important to find out what killed the reptile, as the safety of the public is at stake.”

Dr Edmund Lam, 54, chief executive of a copyright association, also applauded the news, saying he was “happy to hear” it.

He had written in to The Sunday Times Letters page on May 11 after the death of Barney was reported, to ask for clarification on the authorities’ usual procedure when faced with a carcass “of an animal belonging to a significant wildlife species”.

“It’s the right thing to do – a Saltwater Crocodile is rare,” he told The Straits Times yesterday.

Separately, PUB said yesterday that it is carrying out work on the Kranji Reservoir to remove an excessive number of Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) plants on its surface.

This is to help “maintain a balanced eco-system and a relatively clear water surface”, it said.

“Excessive growth reduces the water surface area for oxygen exchange and this can limit the levels of dissolved oxygen levels in the reservoir.”

It was responding to queries from The Straits Times, after a reader sent the paper photographs of machinery clearing flotsam at the reservoir. It said the growth was due to the quick reproduction of the plants within the reservoir, as well as at the rivers upstream.

Recent storms had washed the plants downstream into it, it said.

During the dry spell in February, it had not been able to “deploy aquatic plant removal machineries into the… upstream areas in Sungei Kangkar and Sungei Tengah as the water depth was too shallow”, said PUB. Works to reduce the aquatic plant population at the reservoir are expected to be completed by mid-July.

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror)

Dead crocs will undergo autopsies: PUB

Philippines: Dolphin washed ashore in Cebu dies from wounds

By Joel Locsin, 25th June 2014;

A wounded dolphin that washed ashore off the South Road Properties area in Cebu City last Saturday night died from its injuries Monday night.

It died despite efforts by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 7 to save it, GMA Cebu’s Mark Anthony Bautista reported.

BFAR personnel even tried to place a tube leading to its stomach to pass food and medicine through it.

However, BFAR-7 Fisheries Resource Management Division veterinarian Jennefe Cabarubias said the dolphin had little chance of survival because of the extent of its wounds.

Cabarubias said they are not discounting the possibility the dolphin was attacked by a shark.

Meanwhile, Alvin Santillana of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council urged residents to keep the environment clean so marine life will thrive in the area.

An earlier report by GMA Cebu said the dolphin had been found at the shore with a large wound in the neck area.

Citing information from the local Bantay Dagat task force, the report said the dolphin measured about five feet long.

It said the wound may have been inflicted by a sharp object.

Source: GMA News Online

Philippines: Dolphin washed ashore in Cebu dies from wounds

Angry farmer shows why fish are dying

By Trinity Chua, 25th June 2014;

Fish farmer Philip Lim, 53, wanted to prove a point: That fish caught in the plankton bloom last February did not die from a lack of oxygen but from the toxin released by the harmful algae in the water.

He took 500 fish to his farm at the East Johor Straits and put them in three separate areas; he aerated the first set, aerated and put copper sulphate (to kill bacteria) in the second and seawater in the last.

His instinct was spot on. Only a handful of those who had seawater survived. Lim was vindicated.

“When you aerate the water, you break the cell of the algae and that would release toxin. Then your fishes die. I try telling everyone about it but no one would listen,” he said with an air of resignation.

A spokesman for Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) told The Independent Singapore the plankton bloom was due to “high temperatures and low tides resulting in a plankton bloom in the East Johor Straits.”

Yet a report by the Tropical Marine Science Institute at the National University of Singapore in 2009 confirmed the presence of harmful algae blooms in the Johor Straits even then.

The report said that “toxic bloom-forming species are a causative organism for shellfish poisoning… and they can cause significant damage in coastal areas.”

Lim has been telling AVA about the harmful algae in the East Johor Straits since the first plankton bloom in 2009 that saw the loss of 400,000 fishes.

He showed his makeshift system to detect the presence of harmful algae, which he said was ignored.

Five years and 160 tonnes of dead fish later, AVA went into damage control mode. They offered to pay 70 per cent of the cost to restock the fish farms.

But AVA also said to TODAY, no marine biotoxins were detected in the waters and that made Lim furious.

Four months have passed since then. Lim still speaks harshly of the AVA, like the water around his floating fish farm that threatens to throw us aboard every two minutes.

“Money [the grants and subsidies] cannot keep fishes alive in these waters.”

“I want the AVA to work with us. The ecosystem in this area is ruined. I suspect it is due to the reclamation work going on.”

“[AVA] needs to work with the fish farmers and restore the water here. No one knows for certain when is the next plankton bloom.

“AVA spends too much resources telling us fish farmers how to cut down cost and how to produce more fishes.

“But AVA does not have a sustainable plan to deal with the harmful algae. What is their plan when the next harmful algae bloom happens?

“If AVA doesn’t help us restore the water and monitor this plankton bloom, don’t talk about fish farming, don’t talk about sustainability, all the fishes will die.”

AVA’s spokesperson responded that, “there is no fool proof method or system which is able to forecast the occurrence of a plankton or algae bloom. However, we look out for signs and trigger points, such as unusual weather patterns and poor water exchange between the high and low tides.”

AVA has installed monitoring system at some coastal fish farms and according to their reports there is no plankton bloom since February.

In his early 20s, Lim was a commercial diver. He says his ‘kampong roots’ from his childhood in Kim Chuan village drew him back to fish farming.

10 years ago, he started his first fish farm.

Now everyone in the area knows Philip Lim. He is the Chairman of Singapore Marine Aquaculture Cooperative. His intent- to help fish farmers make a decent living, to keep the old, small-time fish farmers going.

“We have unspoken rules among the fish farmers. We look out for one another, and we do not lock our doors.

It’s not easy being a fish farmer, he says. “The fishes in Malaysia will always be cheaper than ours, and the middleman is always pressing down the prices.”

But 40-odd fishing farms still float on these waters.

“There are fish farmers here who do not even own a house on land. They have lived their entire lives here. Some of them are already 80 years old.”

His friend, 57, who does not want to be named says, “I am catching crabs to sustain my farm. During the plankton bloom this year, I lost a ‘semi-detached house’ worth of profit in these waters.”

Another farmer who only wants to be known as Gregory, 64, says, “AVA need to take some responsibility, don’t just give us money. They need to analyse these waters and find a solution to the plankton bloom.”

Gregory’s solution is to isolate his fishes in large canvases away from the seawater. He took the AVA grant after February’s disaster. It’s better than nothing, he says.

But Lim has stayed away from the grants.

I asks him why, “If I take AVA’s grant, I would not have been allowed to speak to you.”

Source: The Independent – Singapore

Angry farmer shows why fish are dying

This Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) was found alive but eventually died on the shores of Camang, San Ricardo, Southern Leyte yesterday.

Source: Mutya Sa Pintuyan Facebook, via Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook

(This is Part 6 of a 6-part photo set)

This Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) was found alive but eventually died on the shores of Camang, San Ricardo, Southern Leyte yesterday.

Source: Mutya Sa Pintuyan Facebook, via Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook

(This is Part 5 of a 6-part photo set)